I read with dismay and great puzzlement what I can only describe as a hit piece, full of incorrect statements and innuendo in last week's New Times regarding the symphony: “Silence is Golden ... It’s time for people to speak up about the symphony ... .” Well, I take you at your word, and will speak up. (Full disclosure: My wife, Sandi Sigurdson, was executive director from 1995 to 2009 and is now on the board of directors).
I do not know the SLO Symphony organization from the inside, but “by their work shall you know them.” And here’s what I know: I know that the Youth Symphony is growing, that the education programs run by this organization are the envy of their colleagues in the Association of California Symphony Orchestras, that the coming season looks exciting, with a full orchestra conducted by a variety of excellent people, and I know that the commitment of this organization to the community is unwavering. I know that, despite the insinuations made in the article, the board of directors has a long and deep history with the symphony, or tremendous personal and professional achievements, or both. To malign these committed community volunteers in such a manner is unpardonable.
I know (personally and recently) that boards can make changes in leadership, and do, and that at times, leadership can make changes in staff. When that happens, it’s incumbent on the professionals involved to be just that, professional, especially if one cares about the personal and professional legacy one leaves after years of service. This is something toward which perhaps the author of the article could strive. I know that when revenue started dropping in 2008, it was not because an executive committee was formed, or a closed meeting was held without an agenda, but perhaps because the country was going through the worst recession since the ’30s.
The SLO Symphony is not falling apart, as the author implies; it is being actively undermined, and not from within. I will continue to support all those willing to provide music for my soul. I will continue to support the symphony with my presence and my wallet.
-- Steve McGrath - San Luis Obispo